Risks and complications

The emergence of laparoscopic technology has improved weight loss surgery, making it much safer for patients. All surgery carries risks and weight loss surgery carries particular types of risks and complications

In the weeks following surgery you can experience certain side effects. Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea are common and result from not following the appropriate diet. It is important that you follow your weight loss dietary plan and the guidance on chewing and swallowing to prevent complications. Side effects can occur during surgery, during your recovery period or in the months and years after surgery. 

Please seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms: 

  • Recurrent vomiting
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation 

All surgery carries risks which the patient should be aware before opting for a surgical procedure. These include: 

  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia 
  • Excess bleeding 
  • Infection (Surgery Site Infections)
  • Post-surgery blood clotting  
  • Pulmonary embolism 
  • Deep vein thrombosis 
  • Blockage of blood to the brain or heart  

Laparoscopic surgery 

Laparoscopic surgery is a technological innovation in weight loss surgery. Traditionally, open surgery would be performed by the surgeon who would cut and open up the entire abdomen Today, most weight loss surgeries are done laparoscopically, which is minimally invasive. The surgeon makes only a few small incisions into the abdomen and inserts a laparoscope, which is a tiny camera that projects images onto a screen. The surgeon performs laparoscopic surgery outside the patient’s body, controlling the tools remotely and watching the screen. Recovery happens much quicker after laparoscopic surgery, also the rate of infection and risk of developing surgical hernias is much reduced. Laparoscopic surgery is not an option for everyone as it comes with its own risks. You will need to ask your surgeon if laparoscopic weight loss surgery is suitable for you. 

Complications resulting from weight loss surgery 

  • Scar tissue that can make swallowing difficult
  • Leaking from the seam line (RYGB or BPD-DS seam lines or the Gastric-band connection tube) 
  • Recurrent vomiting can cause dehydration or a displaced gastric band 
  • Obstruction or blockage of the Gastric Band can causes problems with swallowing
  • Subheadline: Complications associated with weight loss surgery can occur immediately after surgery or in the months and years afterwards. 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Leakage from stomach staple or suture lines (RYGB, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, BPD-DS) 
  • Leakage from gastric band or connection tubing (Lap-Band) 
  • Band slippage or erosion (Lap-Band) 
  • Bowel obstruction 
  • Infection at the access port site (Lap-Band) 
  • Hernia 
  • Ulcers 
  • Weight regain 
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Anemia 
  • Gallstones 
  • Dumping syndrome 

Weight loss surgery & the gallbladder 

Gallstones is a condition that can occur as a result of weight loss surgery, but more specifically with rapid weight loss. To prevent gallstones surgeons will often perform a cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder during the weight loss surgery. The gallbladder can be removed safely because it is not essential for normal metabolism and will not harm the overall functioning of the body, but it can make digesting fats difficult for some patients. The gallbladder is a sac-like organ that stores bile made in the liver. Bile helps your body digest fat and cholesterol.

Dumping syndrome 

Dumping syndrome occurs when food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine too quickly. When this happens, the food has not been properly digested before it arrives in the intestine. Patients who have had gastric bypass surgery are more likely to experience dumping syndrome. Symptoms may include nausea and cramping; a feeling of being very full after eating food; diarrhoea, a rapid heart rate and sweating. More severe dumping symptoms can include low blood sugar, shakiness and light-headedness. These symptoms appear about one to three hours after a meal or snack. 
  
To prevent dumping syndrome avoid food and drinks high in sugar such as undiluted fruit juice. It is also recommended to avoid foods which are high in fat and eating too much in one sitting. 

 

Please seek and follow the specific guidelines from your bariatric team. Guidelines vary for individual patient needs and surgeries.